Most 'Best Hospitals' Rankings Deserved
A Few Hospitals on List Have Poor Heart Attack Survival Rates
WebMD News Archive
July 9, 2007 -- Most, but not all, hospitals ranked as ‘America’s best’ by a
national magazine also rank high in survival among heart attack patients, a new
Heart attack patients treated at hospitals identified as the nation’s best
for heart care by the publication U.S. News and World Report tended to
have lower 30-day mortality rates than patients treated at nonranked
But more than a few nonranked hospitals had some of the highest heart attack
survival rates, and a handful of highly rated hospitals had some of the worst
The U.S. News & World Report ranking relies heavily on an
institution’s reputation among health care professionals and on an
institution’s size and infrastructure.
Yale University cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, MD, who co-authored the new
analysis, says these measures are less important than assessments of specific
treatments given to patients and patient outcomes.
“We have an increasing number of ways to evaluate hospitals, but consumers
need to understand that these tools are still very limited,” Krumholz tells
America’s Best Hospitals?
Krumholz, Oliver Wang, MD, and Yale colleagues assessed death rates among
heart attack patients treated during 2003 at the 50 best heart hospitals in the
country, according to the U.S. News & World Report ranking.
They compared these rates to those of heart attack patients treated at about
3,800 unranked hospitals during the same year. They used Medicare data of
patients older than 65.
After other factors influencing survival were accounted for, ranked
hospitals were found to have slightly lower 30-day death rates among heart
attack patients than nonranked hospitals (16% vs. 18%).
Thirty-five ranked hospitals (70%) were among the one-fourth of hospitals
with the fewest heart attack deaths during the period, and four (8%) were among
the one-fourth of hospitals with the highest number of deaths.
Overall, roughly a third of the ranked hospitals fell outside of the quarter
of hospitals with the least deaths.
The study is published in the July 9 issue of the journal Archives of
“The U.S. News ranking is a composite that incorporates a lot of
different information, but it doesn’t necessarily identify hospitals that
perform specific tasks best, such as treating heart attack patients,” Krumholz